Children from across the south-east gathered on Wednesday (January 15) for the Masterchef-style final of kids kitchen contest Young Cooks.
A total of 17 youngsters, ranging in age from eight to 16, did battle with each other and the clock at Broadstairs College.
They prepared a dazzling array of dishes for a team of judges including Masterchef finalist Delia Maria-Asser and Great British Bake Off contestant Jane Beedle.
The overall winner was Young Cooks veteran Anya Goodman, 12, of Maidstone’s Invicta Grammar School, who went home with a cash prize of £200.
Anya defied a painful burn to her hand to prepare her two dishes.
Her starter was a ballotine of mackerel with a seaweed and scallop cracker, lemon and garlic purée, homemade mayonnaise, frozen cucumber and cress.
And her main was venison with red wine reduction, sautéed potatoes, cauliflower cheese, roasted broccoli, kale chips and seaweed seasoning.
Ruby Rodgers, 11, of the Folkestone School for Girls won £150 and the secondary school category.
She prepared a main of herbed roast loin of pork on a bed of pan-fried leeks, served with fondant potatoes, apple crisps and a cider jus. This was followed by a pudding of poached Kentish pear with saffron and cardamom syrup, and crème fraîche to serve.
The family winners were Megan Sewell, 9, of Hextable Primary School, Sevenoaks, and her dad, Iain. They cooked a main of cauliflower, steak and sweet potato, and a pudding of desert island rice pudding. Megan received £100 in prize money.
And the winner of the primary school category and £50 in prize money was Alfred Moisan, 11, of Sandling Primary School in Maidstone. He prepared duck breast seasoned with home-made sea salt, pea purée and caramelised carrots.
Alfred had 90 minutes to prepare his dish, while all the other contestants were given two hours.
Both Delia Maria-Asser and Jane Beedle were full of praise for the young contestants.
Jane said: “The standard of the food today has been absolutely outstanding. If I’d been able to cook like that at their age I would have been very happy.
“I hope it will encourage loads more kids of that age to get in that kitchen.”
And Delia said: “It’s been really, really impressive to see children so young cooking such great food.
“I’ve been thoroughly spoilt, and I can imagine that a lot of them will be really, really successful when they’re older.
In addition to the cash prizes for the winners, all the contestants received goodie bags filled with foodie gifts from the judging organisations and Young Cooks supporter Lakeland.
And next month Anya will cook her dishes again at a VIP lunch for the judges at award-winning gastro-pub The Dog at Wingham.
Besides Delia Maria-Asser and Jane Beedle, the Young Cooks judges were Principals by CH & Co Group, SE Medical Ltd, Chequers Kitchen, Broadstairs College, Brakes, Golding Homes, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Southern Co-operative, Kent Catering Service, The Dog at Wingham, Whole School Meals, Macknade and Taylor Meats.
Entry will soon be open for Young Cooks 2020 at www.YoungCooks.org.uk.
Businesses interested in supporting the contest and joining the judging panel should contact Maxine Tarquini at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hannah Hawksworth at email@example.com. Alternatively, call 01227 475966.